Day 1: Letter to a friend

So, I am staying on a little street with multiple creperies, and managed to inhale a crepe with oeuf and fromage for lunch.

You’d be proud: I’m already integrating with the natives. I was lugging my suitcase up the stairs when a largish blond man offered to help. I demurred but he insisted so disarmingly that I felt obliged to please him by allowing him to hoist my bag over his broad shoulders. He introduced himself as Jean-Sven, and when I queried him about his name, he said his mother was French and his father was a Swede.

“Didn’t you scratch off the winning genetic lotto ticket,” I said. I’m not sure he got the idiom entirely, but it registered enough that he smiled all over himself. He’s my upstairs neighbor.

After Jean-Sven parked my suitcase inside my treasured sacred-writing-retreat apartment, I ushered him back out into the hall. Not to seem ungrateful to such a friendly chap, but I was eager to unpack and be, as Gertrude Stein championed, “alone with my language.”
I waved goodbye as he went into the lift and then found myself face-to-face with an open door, and the elegantly-clad elderly lady across the hall peering out fiercely, as if to memorize my face.
“Bonjour,” I said, politely.
“Americaine,” she grimaced, and slammed her door, but not before I caught a glimpse of some rather nice paintings on the wall behind her. Was that a real Cezanne? I need a closer look, but the whole look, the palette and even the frame, screamed Cezanne.

As to other notes, I notice that most of the denizens of this city of lights worship the Lung Cancer Fairy, who protects them from illness as they puff insistently on chains of cigarettes. I went for dinner at an Italian trattoria, where they almost kissed me when I answered them in Italian. Then they brought pasta with my mousse aux chocolate and tried to pretend that the rigatoni accompanied the dessert. We all laughed uproariously.

Til tomorrow, with my warmest thoughts!


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